Ohio Ruling on Bitemark Evidence

Earlier this week, the Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals upheld a trial court judgment preventing Douglas Prade from getting a new trial to contest his conviction for the murder of his ex-wife in 1997. Prade contended that scientific advances have revealed new evidence in his case that could cast doubt on his conviction. For example, Prade cited the American Board of Forensic Odontology’s current guidelines, which would have prevented analysts from claiming that the bitemark matched to him, if they had been in force during the original trial. Prade also provided DNA test results that exclude him from contributing to the DNA found on the bite mark in question.

The court held that no single piece of evidence alone led to the guilty verdict, despite a television interview where three trial jurors stated that the bite mark testimony led them to believe in his guilt. The court also upheld the trial court’s ruling that DNA testing of the bite mark sample during the original trial and the passage of time would impact the ability of new testing to produce accurate exclusionary results.  The court ruled that the evidence that Mr. Prade provided to seek a new trial was not “new evidence” and thus there was no basis for a new trial to be granted. The court also suggested that if the evidence could be considered new evidence, that “it was unlikely to change the outcome here.”

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